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REPORT: Burnley U23s 0 Blackburn Rovers U23s 2

Second-half goals end Clarets' trophy hopes as Rovers take derby honours

7 May 2019

The Clarets’ wait to lift the Lancashire FA Senior Cup goes on after two second-half goals gave derby rivals Rovers victory at county HQ.

Burnley last won the cup in 1992 and a 13th success in the competition eluded them as Blackburn added to their record number of wins.

Steve Stone’s side never made it easy for their higher-ranked opponents and had the better of a highly competitive first half.

But they were unable to get their noses in front, and with top scorer Dan Agyei succumbing to an early injury lacked the goal power to make the difference.

Agyei run.JPG

A superb defensive performance kept the tie in the balance and took the final to within 20 minutes of a penalty shoot-out.

But Rovers’ growing pressure paid off when defender Hayden Carter forced home the opener and a late second from Jack Vale ensured the Clarets ended a season of impressive progress under Stone empty-handed.

The Clarets – watched by first-team boss Sean Dyche – were still missing the injured central midfield pairing of Josh Benson and Christian N’Guessan, which meant a final start for the club for James Clarke alongside impressive youth-teamer Chris Conn-Clarke.

And with Ali Koiki pressed into action on the left-hand side of midfield following the end of his loan spell at Swindon Town, there was an unfamiliar look to Burnley’s starting line-up.

Bayode shot.JPG

Stone was forced into a further change with less than half an hour gone as Agyei - who saw an early effort chalked off for off-side - was injured at the end of a typically thrusting run ended by a foul which curtailed the striker’s evening and prompted a trip to hospital for an X-ray on ankle problem.

But despite the upheaval and the loss of their main attacking weapon, the Clarets took the fight to Blackburn in the first half, causing problems for a side that finished fifth in the top flight of Premier League Two and included a number of players with first-team experience.

Damien Johnson’s side were frustrated as the Clarets stopped them playing and carried a threat with their pace out wide.

Tunde Bayode made space for an effort he struck at keeper Andrew Fisher and the Rovers’ keeper then made a save with his legs to keep out an effort from substitute Lewis Richardson after the 16-year-old released a shot on the turn after Rob Harker had helped on a Jordan Cropper long throw.

Glennon.JPG

Rovers had little joy at the other end as the Clarets defended superbly, with Bobby Thomas a commanding presence and also threatening at the other end with a header he felt had been blocked by an arm.

Burnley had been the better side, but Blackburn upped the tempo after the break and forced the Clarets – whose league campaign had seen them just miss out on a play off place in the U23 Development League – back for long spells.

Again, Thomas and his defensive colleagues stood firm, but just as the prospect of a penalty shoot-out was looming Blackburn forced the break-through.

The Clarets looked to have weathered the storm until John Buckley delivered a cross which Charley Doyle headed goalwards.

Aiden Stone did well to keep his effort out but from the keeper’s save, the ball came back off a post for Carter to tap in from close range.

The Clarets threw on Tinashe Chakwana to provide some fresh legs, but Stone’s men couldn’t fashion a clear-cut chance to force an equaliser.

Rovers second goal.JPG

And with Burnley committing men forward, Rovers were able to strike on the counter-attack and wrap up the win four minutes from time when Jack Vale got clear to fire past Stone, whose injury time save from Joseph Rankin-Costello was a fine last touch in a Burnley shirt ahead of his summer departure to prevent a third goal.

Burnley: Stone; Cropper, Thomas, Wilson, Glennon; Bayode, Clarke, Conn-Clarke (Chakwana 78), Koiki; Agyei (Richardson 28), Harker. Substitutes: McMahon, Senior, Wood.

Blackburn Rovers: Fisher; Carter, Magloire, Annesley (Barnes 90), Thompson; Doyle, Buckley; Rankin-Costello, Vale, Butterworth, Mols (Whitehall 90). Substitutes: Eastham, Brennan, Pike.

Referee: Michael Salisbury

Attendance: 491


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